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Tyler Ludens
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One of my dreams is to build a cold house for our well, a small super-insulated building which would be cooled by well water.  Originally I thought I wanted to build  it with cordwood masonry, but since I've been digging so many rocks from the kitchen garden, someone suggested slipform stone construction, and I've though that would be a good choice for this building.

Does anyone here have experience with slipform building with stone?  What advice can you give regarding it?

Thanks! 
 
                              
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Jim Argeropoulos
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If I remember correctly the RMI headquarters is a double wall slipform construction. The center section is filled with insulation.
 
                                                
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it is easy as this- use boards or ply wood and some stakes- rebar, etc. OR construct knees to keep either upright....put two in place parralel to one another, brace, place a row of rock, pour, move the form, repeat, and back to move up= some people try to fill all and pour, the concrete never settles properly between rocks or drys without cracking, take it slow.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you!  I think I need to get a book for help with building the forms properly - wouldn't want them to fall apart! 
 
                                                
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I dont think you'll find there is a right way or a wrong way, this is pretty primitive stuff. People have their opinions, but what works for you works for you-
How high are you building the walls?
 
Ardilla Esch
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This is a pretty good book on slip-form stone masonry.

http://www.heartbeatnursery.co.nz/stonehouse/index.html

The author is in New Zealand and used quite a bit of rebar to deal with the siesmic zone he is in.  You could probably get by with a lot less rebar.

If your stone is mostly round, I wouldn't do slip-form.  With round rock the slip-form walls end up looking like a poorly poured concrete wall.  But slip-form walls with well fitting angular rock looks nice IMO.
 
                          
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Ardilla wrote:
This is a pretty good book on slip-form stone masonry.

http://www.heartbeatnursery.co.nz/stonehouse/index.html

The author is in New Zealand and used quite a bit of rebar to deal with the siesmic zone he is in.  You could probably get by with a lot less rebar.

If your stone is mostly round, I wouldn't do slip-form.  With round rock the slip-form walls end up looking like a poorly poured concrete wall.  But slip-form walls with well fitting angular rock looks nice IMO.



Well, that's just the thing. I'd rather make a shed with round, odd shaped rocks. The square rocks look unnatural.
 
tel jetson
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I've never used slip forms, but I helped a pal build rock and cement mortar walls for his cottage.

I'm interested in how the water cools this building.  anyone interested in talking about that a little bit?  will it be used as a sort of refrigerator?
 
                      
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How about papercrete? I'm thinking i saw a site that showed how to make papercrete panels and/or papercrete walls.

Just a thought.
 
Tyler Ludens
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tel jetson wrote:

I'm interested in how the water cools this building.  anyone interested in talking about that a little bit?  will it be used as a sort of refrigerator?


Yeah, that's the idea.  The water will be brought from the well at underground temperature (can't remember what it is, 50-something degrees F) to fill a large poly tank which takes up most of the interior of the building, leaving some room around it for storage.  And that's about as far as Ive gotten with the idea. 

 
Jim Argeropoulos
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Papercrete is not load bearing, so if you want to use it, you'll have to find something else to support the weight of the roof.
 
Erica Wisner
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HeritageFarm wrote:
Well, that's just the thing. I'd rather make a shed with round, odd shaped rocks. The square rocks look unnatural.


If you have ever attempted to stack round rocks without concrete, you will quickly realize that round rock walls are inherently unnatural. 

You can use rough rocks, where the flat faces are hidden in the wall and the protruding faces are more rounded. 

But if what you want is the round rock facing effect, I think you might want to hand-fit the rocks, or use them as a facing. 
You'd need to let the round rocks stick out below any form you use, or mold the form around the rocks; if the rocks rest inside the form, the concrete will just mostly cover them.

 
Irene Kightley
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Agreed Erica,

Many old stone houses here in France have been re-pointed when the clay mortar used starts to disintegrate because of water damage. A lot of people use slip form to re-point to save time and money but they lose the beauty of the stone which is a shame.

You could use dry board to keep the stones even, putting the mortar then placing the stones inside the board on top of the mortar but if it's a small project why not do it by hand then you can choose the most interesting side of the stone to place on the outside ?

You realise that the cold room will probably be warmer than the outside temperature in the winter ? The inside will stay at a near constant temperature all year round which is great if you make wine and want to keep it in good condition.

 
 
Warren David
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HeritageFarm wrote:
Well, that's just the thing. I'd rather make a shed with round, odd shaped rocks. The square rocks look unnatural.
I think what Ardila means is that completely round as in rugby ball, spherical shapes  etc do not always work well in slip form walls. The concrete can pour through and cover up so much of the face side of the rock that you may end up seeing more concrete than rock which is not a natural look at all.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks for your input. 

Yes, I realize the "cold house" will be "warm" during the coldest days, but what I'm after is more constant cool temperatures.  Even winter is not very cold here usually.
 
                            
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/12531305@N07/3253651070/ heres some photos of the place I built...I read all of the books...the art of building a stone house by Joe Koehler was the best....as well as the stonebuilders primeir...but thats my opinion....a lot of info, without ll the filler...It was relatively simple, just build the forms, lay the stones against the face and fill in around with concrete...mine took 2 summers to complete the stonework...I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you've got.
 
Irene Kightley
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Beautiful work Kenny !

That's going to be such a handsome house.
 
Karl Teceno
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what part of the world are you in, Kenny?
 
                            
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I live in upstate new york, about 300 feet from the southeastern corner of Lake Ontario....I love the photos of your house Irene...the floors are incredible!!!
 
            
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Ludi Ludi wrote:
One of my dreams is to build a cold house for our well, a small super-insulated building which would be cooled by well water.


I have been thinking about the above sentance as I read this thread, and it seems that no one has addressed the last portion, "cooled by well water".  I live in the desert of New Mexico, and I have lived in various deserts of Arizona, as well.  Due to the low humidity, a very effective form of cooling used here is the evaporative cooler.  Now, how does or could that apply to a stone building?  I would find the direction of primary prevailing wind, and build a special wall in that direction, as well as the opposing wall.  Here is how I would do it.

I would acquire some heavy guage angle iron and expanded metal mesh, enough to make both an inside and outside wall or cage, perhaps a foot thick, although that may be too thick for effective air flow.  I would fill this portion with small rock or gravel, and install a drip system fed by my well water.  As I mentioned, this would be a portion or all of the walls so that the wind could enter and exit through these sides.  If you want to build stone/concrete walls on the opposite sides, fine.  I would insulate the roof and the outsides of these walls.  This is to prevent solar gain.  An earth berm against them might be sufficient.  You might wish to build a french drain under the two drip walls to carry away the moisture that the wind does not evaporate.

In the winter time, I would turn the drip system off.

Just another option.
 
Nathan Bernard
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The cabin that my parents lived in when I was born had a "springhouse" that utilized a similar concept. The building was constructed directly on top of a natural spring that ran out of the hillside behind the cabin. It was earth-bermed on three sides and had an earthen roof. The walls were stone. Inside, the spring was channeled into two shallow concrete pools that ran down either side of the room. The water spilled from the end of the pools into the natural creek bed that continued down the hill. My folks would float large stainless steel bowls in the cold water in the pools and store their perishables in the bowls. I know that not everyone has such an ideal spring near the house ( I have a feeling that the siting of the cabin was largely due to the spring), but the concept has stuck with me over the years and I plan to create a similar structure at our place using the cold creek water.

Nathan
 
solomon martin
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I am a stone mason, my experience with slip-form has been messy, labor intensive and ends up using more cement than just building a wall with traditional masonry skills.  If you are using cobble type stone, this may be a method worth considering if you are in a hurry.  If you are working with granite, sandstone or some type of quartzite that is easily chiseled or has a lot of planar (flat) fracture patterns, I recommend just building your walls with a trowel and mortar.  Another alternative that works well with irregular shaped stone is the Hawaiian method:
Arrange to parallel courses of stone as the outsides of your wall, pour thick concrete in between. Arrange (balance) your next courses and add more concrete, repeat process untill you have achieved desired height.  This is similar to slip form, but does away with the form boards.  There are literally thousands of miles of good looking stone walls all around the Islands built like this.   
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks for all this input.  The rocks I have are all small rubble type, with no flat planes.

 
solomon martin
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O.K. if you are working with cobbles that are mostly 6 inches is diameter or less*, you can just use them as ingredients for concrete, that way you don't have to bother with placing them in by hand individually (time consuming). I would simply make sure they are well washed, and use them as part of the aggregate mix in your concrete (make sure you have a good mixer, bigger is better).  The strength of concrete comes partially from a gradated mixture of stone sizes, there is nothing wrong with having large cobbles in it, just as long as you have smaller gravels as well.  Slip forming works great for concrete; you save money on forming materials, and you can work at your own pace.  If you go ahead and build your walls out of concrete, but still want the stone masonry look, just pour a brick ledge at the bases of the walls you want to see stone and lay stone against the concrete after the wall is built.  This way you can have your structure in the short term and take the time to learn how to build a stone-veneer wall, which will be much more aesthetically pleasing** than a slip form masonry wall.  Cheers!

* Depending on the width of your wall.  The more massive the overall dimensions of your walls, the larger the aggregate you can use. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn't use aggregate that was greater than 2/3 the over all width.  Example a 12 in. thick wall could use up to 8in. diameter cobbles.  The reason for this rule is to insure that there is space for the fine material in the crete to surround the stones.  You can break this rule if you want, you just run the risk of creating voids and air pockets in the material.

**Kenny, that is a really nice work! If you were to do it over, do you think you might avoid using the front form board and concentrate on fitting and finishing the joints with mortar, rather than scrubbing off all that concrete residue?
 
                            
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actually I tried a few different methods when I built this. I started below grade with the slipform method and it was messy with concrete oozing all over the face. So I started laying the stone with mortar and just filling in behind it with concrete, but that went slow because I had to wait for the mortar to set before I moved on. also if I mixed my mortar to loose, that oozed all over and made a mess as well. The 3rd and last method that  found in a book recommended putting sand between the stones and the front slipform. the sand fills the voids that the concrete would have oozed into. when you removed the forms, you wash the sand away and you have a nice reveal to the stone, and no concrete to chip away. I think the methods all depend on the stones you have available, and your level of expertise in laying them. the beauty of slipforming is that you don't have to be a professional mason to build a house and most of the strength comes from the concrete and rebar.

 
solomon martin
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Cool Kenny, sounds like you found a system that works for you.  As for waiting for the mortar to dry, here is a tip: don't add so much water!  Mortar is very strong even if it is mixed dry, for your face and bedding joints, add just enough water so that it sticks together when pressed in your hands.  That way you can pack it in with a trowel and don't have to worry about it oozing and smearing.  You had the right idea placing the stones and filling behind them with concrete, that is essentially the professional method.  Another tip: instead of using lime in your spec mix, use powdered clay.  Lime works great for porous material such as brick or block, but with stone, the weight of all that dense stuff squeezes the water out of the mortar and you get drip marks on the face of the stone.  Clay doesn't do that, plus it firms up faster which means less waiting to build your next course.
 
Tyler Ludens
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All this information is very helpful.  Thank you!

 
Tyler Ludens
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Now I'm leaning toward a bottle structure instead of the slip-form rubble construction.  This is my inspiration:



I very much like the round shape, because it would conform to the round water tank inside (with a space for one to walk around the tank).  I'm guessing construction is very similar to cordwood masonry except using bottles instead of cordwood.  We have been saving bottles for several years and should have plenty when the time comes to build. So far this seems to be the easiest and cheapest method for our little well house. 

Has anyone here built a structure of bottles?  Do you know how they compare in insulation value compared to rocks or cordwood masonry?

 
Irene Kightley
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We use bottles a lot but for underfloor insulation and they're excellent.



That little building is lovely !

If you use the bottles like that though, I think they'll heat the space inside when the sun hits them.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ah, that's certainly possible.  Hmm.  I guess I'll need to think on this more and maybe do some small experiments.  I wonder if they would heat the walls if they were closed off on the inside with mortar?  That would make them into closed air spaces.  I guess if it still got too hot one could stucco over the bottle ends so the sun couldn't strike them.  Of course there wouldn't be the cute decorative effect. 
 
Sam White
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How about building the structure using the bottles as you thought, then using a trellis around the structure? The leaves of whatever you plant on the trellis might keep enough sunlight off the bottles to prevent too much heating...
 
                      
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We have a quasi cold house here on the farm; it was used to cool milk. The milk had to be cooled and stored until the milkman came around, so it was submersed in a water bath in large steel milk cans (I still have a few of my great grand fathers individually tagged and licensed milk cans.... too cool). I don't know the rate at which water flowed into the cooler or exactly how it drained. At some point a set of condenser plates were added.

The tank is now dry, but the building stays much cooler than outside during the summer and does stay warmer in winter. I assume that has to do with the mass of the buried concrete and the block construction.

Just thought this may help in your design. 







 
Tyler Ludens
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Sam, I'm not sure I could get enough growth on a trellis to provide sufficient shading - and if I could, we wouldn't be able to see the cute decorative bottle ends.    I've decided if we do use this building method I'll leave the bottle ends exposed and if the building heats up, we'll just stucco over most of them, leaving a few uncovered for interior lighting. 

Thanks for those pics, stewart!  It's always helpful to see other designs for this system.   

This construction project is probably years down the road.  We want to install a PV water pumping system on the well and that will be when we install the storage tank.  I'll just make sure to allow for the cool house when we arrange the various components in that part of the yard.  It's a huge daunting project. 
 
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